Advent Calendar 5: Mulled Cider

Sometimes the world is out to get you. Hard days and long nights don’t take a holiday because it’s Christmas. Therefore, here is a recipe that will cute your ills, soothe and warm you, and get you well on your way to being merry.

Mulled Cider

  • 1 litre still dry cider (I used Snakecatcher by New Forest Cider)
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Juice of an orange
  • 50ml calvados
  • 50ml pomegranate juice
  • 3tbsp caster sugar

Warm up the cider until steaming. Meanwhile, measure out your dry and wet ingredients.

Chuck in your spices and juice/booze mixture and give everything a good stir. Bruise the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod with your spoon as you do so.

Bring the pot up to a boil, then turn it back down to a simmer for 5-8 minutes

Serve piping hot in heatproof cups.


This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe for the same, with a few measurements tweaked, and an extra dose of booze to warm your cockles. It’s a damn good recipe, so I didn’t need to muck about with it much. Sweet, fruity, boozy and oh so quaffable- this is going to be my go to mulled beverage this year.




God Jul! : Recipe Advent Calendar 16th

God Jul! Or Merry Christmas if you are of an english speaking persuasion.

Glogg is the traditional swedish christmas drink- a mulled wine full of spices, but perhaps a little different to what you are used to. Glogg contains a lot of booze, giving the finished product a much more fortifying taste. It also traditionally contains raisins and almonds, and is spiced with Cardamom, which is headily aromatic and common in nordic Christmas fare.

Thankfully, apart from the extra ingredients, it isn’t any more difficult to make, and I love how warming the wine and spices fills my home with the feeling of a Christmas Grotto. Yum!

I’ve broken down this recipe into a 1 person size portion, and adjusted the heating time accordingly. I’ve also omitted almonds, as I simply didn’t have any whole ones in the house. If you want to include them, simply use the same measurement as for the raisins.


  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 shot Brandy
  • 1 shot Ruby Port
  • Scant 1/8tsp Ground Cardamom, or 1-2 pods
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 clove
  • 20g mixed fruit and peel (or 15g raisins and approx 5 g peel)
  • 33g sugar, ideally in lumps


Add all the ingredients, except the sugar, to your pan, and bring the mixture up to a steaming heat.

Heat the wine at this heat for 10-15 minutes. Do not let the wine boil.

When you are ready to serve, strain the mix through a fine mesh sieve. If you like, you can add the fruit to your serving glass, or leave them out at this point.

Place your sugar in the bottom of your glass or mug and pour the portion of Glogg over. Enjoy!


The extra booze gives Glogg a really warming kick. I love the clean, heady scent of the cardamom too. This isn’t more than a stone’s throw away from standard mulled wine, but variety is the spice of life.

Speaking of spice, if you can get hold of make-you-own tea bags, you can make up portions of this mix, save the liquids, as stocking fillers for those old enough to enjoy this Christmas delight.



Festive Libations: Recipe Advent Calendar 5th-9th

Sorry tee-tollers; this post is not going to be for you.

I like my Christmas ‘merry’, and for me there is nothing so festive as a swanky Christmas cocktail party. Not that I get invited to too many of those, but an evening under the Christmas lights, martini glass in one hand and wrapping paper in the other does me just fine.

I like my cocktails fruity and sweet, so this ‘menu’ leans quite a bit that way. Some are long, most are strong, but all are instant festive favourites and I just know you’ll love getting ‘jingled’ on them as much as I do.

I dedicate this post to Simon, Davi, Pam, Amber, David, Gary, Holly and Izzy, who dutifully ‘tested’ these out for me over the weekend.



Cheery Chocolate Cherry-tini

For a ‘martini’, this isn’t the strongest drink around, but it is so tasty and festively red. I adore it. If you really can’t get hold of creme de cacao you *can* use a sweet clear liqueur like Malibu, but I really recommend getting yourself a bottle of this stuff. One, you’ll need it for another recipe later on. Two, you deserve it. Three, it isn’t too difficult to find- a well stocked drinks specialist/off license should have it, or try amazon or

  • 1 part cherry juice
  • 1 part creme de cacao
  • 1 part vanilla vodka

Add ingredients to a shaker and shake over ice. Serve in a martini glass with a glacé or maraschino cherry garnish. If you like your drink a little longer, use two measures of cherry juice.



The Grinch

I love love LOVE this cocktail because it is such a step away from the usual christmas flavours, whilst still being pretty darn festive, colour accurate and refreshingly delicious.

  •  2 measures midori
  • 1/2 measure lemon juice
  • 1 tsp simple syrup
  • OPTIONAL: a tap of confectioners glitter in Holographic White (for the snow of Hooville)

Shake ingredients over ice and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a glacé or maraschino cherry. For extra cheer, wet the rim of your glass with the rind of the lemon and rim it with coloured sugar- I recommend red.




This fruity, oh-so-red holiday favourite is a great pitcher drink for parties, but here are the measurements for just one glass… if you can restrain yourself to that. There is debate on the the orange liqueur to use, and the sparkling wine, but for me it has to be Cointreau, and I’m not fussy on the wine. White or pink, Champagne or reasonable-but-drinkable plonk- I don’t think you need to go all out on a wine you are using in the mix. If you can drink it on its own, you’re doing it right. If you’re breaking the bank to buy a bottle, you’re doing it wrong.

  • 1/2 measure Cointreau
  • 2 measures Cranberry juice
  • Sparkling wine or Champagne

Pour the Cointreau and chilled cranberry juice into your champagne flute and stir well. If the juice isn’t chilled before hand, use a shaker full of ice to bring the temperature of it and the liqueur down. Top with the fizz.



Black Forest Martini

There are lots of versions of a Black Forest or Chocolate Raspberry Martini, but this is my favourite. I find this recipe irresistibly festive and delicious, so I’ve included it. Because I love you and I want you to get proper merry this season. This one is really very strong- you have been warned.

  • 1 measure Raspberry Vodka
  • 1 measure Cherry Brandy
  • 1 measure Creme de Cacao

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake over ice. Serve in a cocktail glass rimmed with sugar and confectioners glitter, like a touch of hoarfrost. Beautiful and delicious.


Lets Get Sauced

I saw this fun and, essentially, frugal take on a Cosmopolitan on Mamrie Hart’s genius Youtube show ‘You Deserve a Drink’. If you’ve got some Cranberry Sauce that needs some love, fix yourself one of these. Please note that I’ve erred on the side of, erm, caution with these measurements.

  • 2 shots citrus vodka
  • 1 shot lime juice
  • A generous tablespoon of cranberry sauce

Add all your ingredients to a shaker and shake thoroughly over plenty of ice. Strain and serve in a martini glass with a slice of lime to garnish.


After one of each of those you’ll probably be a little worse for wear, so please remember to drink responsibly, particularly around this feast season: you shouldn’t let anything spoil your celebrations.

That aside, the above concotions also make an excellent cocktail menu if you are planning a christmassy party- try writing or printing them up in a calligraphy style font to set out for your guests to order from or serve themselves with.

I’ll see you again on the 10th with another recipe. Have a Merry-in-more-ways-than-one evening, everyone!


All warmed up inside!

There’s nothing better on a chilly winter’s evening than curling up under a blanket on the sofa with a cup of something warming. While out and about it’s easy to give in to the Glühwein and Hot Toddy vendors that magically appear at this time of year. I love a bit of mulled wine, don’t get me wrong, and I love a bit of mulled cider even more; but sometimes, it’s a ‘school night’, and you can’t be getting tiddly if you have to be up early in the morning. Well, I can’t, anyway.

The solution for me, when it comes to seasonal winter warmers, is mulled or spiced apple juice. You can get this on the street sometimes; there’s a wonderful vendor in Borough Market, Chegworth Valley who are worth a visit, in person or online, for their seasonal offerings. I find it perfectly warming; healthy, full of delicious winter spices and piping hot to chase the chill from your hands around the cup and your heart as you drink.

This year I’m unlikely to make it to the market before Christmas, woe is me, so I thought I’d knock a similar version up at home. The beauty of this, of course, is you can mix and match with your preferred spices to create your perfect blend. Rummaging online, all of the recipes I saw called for litres upon litres of juice and whole cinnamon sticks and peels… lovely for a party, not so great for a five minute pick me up you can make with your basic cupboard supplies. So here’s my ‘cheat’ version, which worked a treat.

Spiced Apple Juice

Serves 1-2, depending on your thirst!

  • 2 servings of Apple Juice (any will do- I chose a nice pressed juice for tartness and the lovely cloudy look)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves, or 2 whole ones
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 drops orange extract
  • 3 drops lemon extract

Pour your juice into a small saucepan. Add the spices and extract and stir well.

Whilst stirring gently, heat up the juice until steaming hot, not boiling. This should take approximately 5 minutes.

Pour out, through a sieve if you like, and serve.

Simple, family friendly and delicious, and it goes very well with seasonal gingerbread cookies. Check out the photoset on Tumblr!